Last Sunday, I made the short drive north to Baltimore, MD, home of the UMBC Retrievers. I had first heard of UMBC back in the 2007-2008 season. While flipping through the different games on a Saturday afternoon, I came across an Ohio State game, playing a school that at the time I had never heard of (I was not as attentive to mid-majors as I am today). This school was UMBC, and they gave the Buckeyes quite a scare, coming close to a red-line upset and only losing by nine. Despite losing that game, Randy Monroe's team won 24 games that year, an America East Championship, and made their first (and only) NCAA tournament appearance in school history. Things died down for the squad after that year, as they dipped to five wins a year ago, and entered last Sunday's contest with New Hampshire with a 3-21 record, and two of those wins were against Towson and Binghamton (at least they are beating teams that they should be beating).
As I purchased my ticket, I noticed that my general admission ticket was numbered 13. While I'm not overly superstitious, I had hoped that it would prove to be lucky for the Retrievers. The first thing I noticed was the lack of a student section. Outside of the band (which I was very impressed by), cheerleaders, and dance team, there were maybe 10-15 students there. The rest of the student section was filled with regular fans and their children. I'm sure the team's record and the fact that it was a Sunday matinee game had something to do with it, but I'm still surprised that more people weren't in attendance.
At first, it seemed like things were going the Retrievers' way, and my thoughts about my ticket would not be an issue. After a Ferg Myrick #superhoop opened the scoring for UNH, UMBC went on an 11-0 run to take an early eight point lead. The lead reached as high as 10 midway through the first half, and I thought that things would go UMBC's way. However, the Wildcats fought back, cutting the lead down to four (28-24) at the half.
In the second half, the Wildcats continued their charge, taking the lead on an Alvin Abreu #superhoop. However, Chandler Thomas responded with a #superhoop of his own, putting the Retrievers back in front. The game remained close until a pair of Abreu free-throws gave the Wildcats an eight point lead with six minutes remaining. It seemed like UMBC was fading, but they did have one last run in them, cutting the lead down to one at 54-53. However, that would be as close as they would get. While the Retrievers had opportunities to complete their comeback, they were unable to convert, and the Wildcats hit their free-throws down the stretch to win 66-60. The game was much closer than I thought it would be, especially at the beginning. Hopefully, the Retrievers can find some better luck as the America East season winds down and the tournament begins.
NEW HAMPSHIRE 66, at MARYLAND-BALTIMORE COUNTY 60 02/12/2012
NEW HAMPSHIRE 10-14 (5-8) -- P. Konan 4-11 5-7 15; A. Abreu 4-12 5-6 15; C. Rhoads 3-7 1-5 8; B. Benson 6-12 4-4 16; F. Myrick 2-10 0-0 5; J. Bronner 2-2 0-1 5; J. Trotman 1-1 0-0 2; S. Morris 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 22-55 15-23 66. MARYLAND-BALTIMORE COUNTY 3-22 (2-11) -- C. Plummer 2-9 6-6 11; J. Getz 3-9 2-3 9; R. Cook 6-12 5-6 19; J. Lane 2-5 0-0 4; B. Neller 0-7 0-0 0; J. Wasco 4-6 0-0 8; C. Thomas 2-4 0-0 5; J. Wertz 1-3 0-0 2; N. Basalyga 0-0 0-0 0; Q. Jones 0-0 2-2 2. Totals 20-55 15-17 60.
Three-point goals: UNH 7-21 (A. Abreu 2-7; B. Benson 0-2; C. Rhoads 1-2; F. Myrick 1-5; P. Konan 2-4; J. Bronner 1-1), UMBC 5-18 (B. Neller 0-5; J. Wertz 0-1; C. Plummer 1-3; R. Cook 2-3; J. Getz 1-3; J. Lane 0-2; C. Thomas 1-1); Rebounds: UNH 37 (P. Konan 11), UMBC 28 (C. Plummer 7); Assists: UNH 7 (C. Rhoads 5), UMBC 6 (J. Getz 3); Total Fouls -- UNH 13, UMBC 19; Fouled Out: UNH-None; UMBC-R. Cook.